A couple of questions that have come up in recent play, sort of a mish-mash…

A couple of questions that have come up in recent play, sort of a mish-mash…

A couple of questions that have come up in recent play, sort of a mish-mash…

* When you are Defending something, and you run out of hold, you can just re-roll Defend, right?  I mean, you are still Defending.  Example: Josef is trying to keep a bunch of chaos-infected dwarves from getting past him on a narrow bridge.  He is defending the bridge.  My instinct is that as long as he is defending the bridge, and as long as the chaos dwarves are just trying to get past him (as opposed to attacking him directly), he can just keep rolling defend and spending hold to damage them until a) they back off and change their tactics or b) they are all dead or c) he rolls a 6 or less and I as the GM do something nasty to him.  Does that sound right?

* Same example.  Lets say the chaos dwarves decide to instead attack Josef.  If that is the case, Josef just Hacks and Slashs or Defies Danger, right?  That is, he just keeps his hold from the Defend on the bridge until someone tries to do something with the bridge and otherwise fights normally.  Right?

* Is there a rule about stacking bonuses?  I thought there was, but I can’t find it.  The PC’s in our game are up to lvl 7-8, and some of them have some very clever move combinations (we are using Class Warfare) that lead to very high bonuses.  I”m ok with this, it just means they are badasses of great badass-ness, but it is making it harder to put tough opposition against them.

13 thoughts on “A couple of questions that have come up in recent play, sort of a mish-mash…”

  1. On Defend, I think you basically have it right.

    It doesn’t seem like a problem that you can follow up a Defend with another Defend– after all, the followup to a Hack and Slash is frequently another Hack and Slash.

    The key is that the moves should change the fictional context after they happen. Again, this is also true of H&S.

    The story should be in a different place after the first one, and the setup and results of the second one should reflect that.

    So in your example, yes, if he’s Defending the bridge and they’re ignoring him, he can just hurt them.

    So they should change their tactics. They have to deal with the guy defending the bridge. And attacking him directly is one way to do that.

    This is actually a pretty great linkage of game mechanics and narrative, right? He’s defending the bridge, and he’s rolling Defend. Because he’s successfully defending the bridge with his rolls, he successfully defends the bridge in the fiction.

    And to keep defending the bridge in the fiction, he’s going to have to deal with the direct attacks on himself. Those are H&S.

    (BTW, the hold from the Defend move is a resource. Hitting them with “use up their resources” on a 6- on the H&S/DD from the direct combat is a perfectly good move, and follows the fiction: The attackers have shifted him out of position or distracted him so he can’t hold the bridge anymore.)

  2. If you find that they are triggering defend again, you may want to find some fictional way to prompt new action, just so the scene doesn’t become redundant.

    If they have already successfully defended the bridge and spent their hold, perhaps give them an opportunity to advance/take new ground.  Or send a devastating attack at the bridge, to show them the cost of standing their defense.  Be careful you’re not negating their successful defense, of course; you’re simply making the scene more dangerous/adventurous/exciting.

    If the PC has Defend hold, they are free to take other actions, including other moves, and retain that hold as long as they remain in a position within the fiction to continue to defend whatever triggered the move.  They can hold perpetually, and can’t spend that hold unless and until it gets triggered (as a GM, play nice – they have shown an interest in defending that bridge; give them the chance to do it!).

    If the players reach a bonus of 5+, they cannot roll a 6-; with an 8+, they cannot roll a 9-.  At some point, their fictional position is just so good that they get to do it without a roll.  We move away from stacking bonuses, to simply saying “yes.”  These are heroes, after all.  But keep in mind, the dice provide changes in momentum, in or against the PCs, or provide for interesting choices.  If they are overcoming all obstacles thrown against them, then the story becomes boring.  Throw new challenges at them, coming from angles that they aren’t so prepared to defend.

    The masterful DW heroes can be presumed to be winning battles left and right, that we don’t see on the screen, and we zoom forward to those big scenes that really challenge them.  Against the the foes that KNOW the heroes, who have researched the PCs’ weaknesses, and use new tactics, special defenses, sorcery, attacks against their friends/loved ones, or some other way.  

  3. I agree Andrew Fish about changing tactics in the situation, absolutely.  It would be a pretty boring scene just to have Josef roll Defend 10 times and kill off all the chaos dwarves spending hold.   The example was just to ensure my understanding of the rules by outlining an extreme case.

    Otherwise, thanks for the answers so far.

  4. For holding defend, I think I remember from my reading one of the example under the Defend move that explained that since the character stopped defending in the fiction to start attacking, he lost his Holds.

  5. Well, the trigger for spending the hold is “As long as you stand in defense…”. I don’t think that precludes other fighting, as long as you’re still in a position to defend. (In fact, the fact that the move is structured as hold and not immediate effects implies pretty hard that you’re expected to keep contributing to the action while spending the hold.)

    Personally, in the bridge situation, I wouldn’t automatically cancel it if they’re attacked and they H&S or DD to deal with it, as long as they’re still trying to cover that ground.

    If they try to narrate running across the battlefield, or even just start sounding like they’re more interested in killing Chaos Dwarves than holding the bridge, that sounds like a good time for “tell them the possible consequences and ask”, where the consequences are not being able to spend their hold.

  6. I’m a big fan of “let it ride.” That is, I’m not going to call for another roll until there’s a significant change to the fiction. I’d run it like this…

    MC: The horde of chaos dwarves swarms over the promontory, filing onto the narrow stone bridge spanning the chasm. Black arrows fill the air, plummeting towards you with deadly speed. What do you do?

    Josef: I yell, “Run like hell, comrades! I’ll hold them as long as I can,” and then leap forward into the breach, bracing my shield for impact.

    MC: Perfect. Roll+con to Defend. The foul stench of the devilsworn fills your nostrils as their first wave crashes against you. What do you do with your hold?

    Josef: There’s a whole army huh? That’s gonna hurt even with plate armor and shield. I’ll spend all 3 on “halve the damage” … That’s 1/8 damage right?

    MC: Smart move, since there’s about 50 of them adding +1 damage each. Sure you don’t want to redirect some of those arrows they’re firing from the back ranks?

    Josef: … Plus 50 damage? You sick fuck. Yeah I’m sure. Malek and Renny will have to dodge the arrows themselves.

    MC: grins devilishly You stem the tide of their advance (at no small cost to your health) … For now. You others, you know Josef can’t hold them forever. What do you do?

  7. Marshall Brengle +50? Hmm, well maybe with their own Volley but not all of them are going to be shooting at the one guarding the bridge and if you are talking melee then only 2-4 could get on the bridge and be effective.  I don’t think that I would have a +50 for multiple opponents.  Maybe a +10, but the damage that they are doing is b[# of  Dwarves in dice] and if it’s 50 then you can easily assume you can roll a 6 on a d6 out of 50 rolls.  So doing 56 hit points is a bit much.  Also, I didn’t know that the 1/2 would stack like that, giving 1/2, 1/4 and then 1/8 for 3 holds.  Interesting.  So then for 56 damage to the 1/8th would be 7 points of damage the character takes from the 50 Dwarves all shooting at him.  Talk about heroic!  Even though that is probably a good 1/3 or more of his hit points in one attack.  So having spent all of his 3 holds on this.  Would he get to roll Defend again if he continued to defend the bridge?  I am having trouble breaking out of the “Your Action” reaction with the ongoing narrative and where Holds are used up and needing more Holds.  This came up when I tried to have an Earthbender in the game, where they get multiple holds for using their earthbending.  When are they used up and another “Action” is needed or can they just simply roll for more holds when needed?  Hmm a bit of a conundrum.

  8. RAW is roll the single best damage die, and add 1 damage for each individual in the mob. In my example, I’m abstracting the combat, so that one Defend roll can serve an epic hero to hold back an evil army by himself (assuming he survives). Calling for individual rolls for every single exchange of blows is not really in the spirit of DW. Each “move” should be thought of more like a take in a movie. 

  9. Addramyr Palinor , the attacked player only rolls the hardest-hitting die, and then adds one point for each additional foe attacking them in that same action.

    If four axe-swinging grunts (1d6, messy) and a tree-swinging ogre (1d10, forceful, ignores armor) all group up and hit our intrepid hero, they would roll 1d10 + 4.

    Interpreting tags can be interesting, though….

    The 1d10 is forceful, and ignores armor.  Our hero might get smashed prone and dazed, and then the grunts fall upon them, swinging axes for weak spots, making a bloody mess and ruining armor.  In this case, i would grant the “+4” “ignores armor” from the ogre, as well as keeping “messy”.

    But if, in the fiction, the hero had attempted to put some of the grunts between herself and the ogre, and traded blows, or defied danger with consequences, i might adjudicate that the Ogre’s hit deals full damage, but the additional damage gets reduced collectively by armor (4-armor), as their axes chop greedily, and only some (or none) find flesh.

    Or maybe the hero circled the ogre, putting it between her and the grunts, and the ogre’s attack actually knocked her clear of their reach… in which case it’s only 1d10, and the grunts are scrabbling around, trying to avoid the ogre’s swings while moving in on the hero.

    Basically, pay attention to the fiction, and whatever triggered the damage, and then figure out how to get creative with it.  Do not fall into the old school mentality of “roll 1d10+4 damage, and NEXT!”  Instead, paint a bloody portrait.  Explain how the attack unfolded, and how/why the damage occurred.  

    Deal damage, but also take something.  Axes cut into armor straps; they’ll need time and resources (adventuring gear?) to mend it, they have -1 armor for now.  Or that flask of oil in their pack burst, and the grunts’ torches are dropping guttering clumps of flaming pitch….  Better yet, ask the player what they lost: an item, their position, a finger?  Their calm and sunny disposition?

    And then make a move, or ask someone, anyone, “What do you do?”

  10. Yes, I had it wrong, sorry.  The number of combatants, take the best die and roll once. +1 for each combatant beyond 1.  But +50? Now that is a bit much.  I wouldn’t think that with the rest of the party there they would ALL go after the guy guarding the bridge.  I also didn’t know that if you use the 1/2 damage, then use it again it makes it 1/4 then 1/8th.  Makes the Defend Move more dramatic.  I figured if you got more than one Hold for Defend that they would have to be spent for different things if they were spent at the same time. 

    Still wrapping my head around the action sequence, or “Movie take”, instead of a single “Action” by the player when they answer the “What do you Do?” Question.  It is also very hard to get across the fluidity of time here to the player, especially players that are used to an initiative system and waiting politely for their turn.

    I am also finding that running 6 players is a bit hard to keep the action going and not seeming like I am playing favorites with the jumping around in the action.

  11. You roll damage plus one for each additional combatant dealing damage.  I think it is perfectly reasonable to limit the number of enemies engaged in melee damage.  And for ranged attacks, when you get past a certain number, you can assume that most of them are going to miss anyway. 

    That said, sometimes a player wants to make that glorious last stand.  Think of Leonidas at the end of 300 – he challenges the emperor, and while hundreds of arrows rain down on him, only a few of them actually add to the damage.  In this case, while there are a few hundred attacked, maybe roll damage + 10, for those that would hit on target.

    Also, in Defend, one of the hold is presumably going to be used to draw the attacks from the defended target onto the PC spending hold.  Only for those attacks can another hold be spent to half damage.  If the 50 archers weren’t actually shooting at the bridge, the defender isn’t drawing those additional 50 attacks onto themself.

    What might happen is the defender draws the attacks of the closest few trying to take the bridge, and halves that damage.  As a separate move, after that, you then tell them “You’ve attracted the attention of the nearby archers.  A couple dozen have drawn a bead on you, and then.. thwang you hear the bowstrings start snapping…. What do you do?”  Give the PC a new change to react to the arrows; if they react in such a way that they give up the defense of the bridge, they lose any remaining hold.  But if they stand their ground and deal with the arrows some other way, they keep remaining hold.  Note, their hold couldn’t be spent to reduce the incoming arrow damage by half, should they take damage.

    As for number of players and fluidity – i find that three – four players is the sweet spot; more than that, and giving each adequate spotlight is difficult for me; especially with new/shy/hesitant players that need to be coaxed into decisive action.

    What might help is to encourage the players to also pay attention, and to help you.  Tell them you’re having trouble keeping everyone involved, and ask them to involve one another.  When it’s my turn, as a PC, i can note that JoJo the Dancing Wizard hasn’t been involved much; I’ll call out to JoJo to cover me, while i charge into combat, and attempt to get my enemy to turn their back on JoJo.  This prompts JoJo to be in a position to help me; it also puts me in a likely position to help JoJo on their next turn.  The GM can then take advantage of this by spotlighting JoJo next. 

    In DW, it is important that the GM is just another player, with a slightly different set of rules.  All of the players at the table can and should share the responsibility of helping eachother have a good time, get involved in the fiction, and be a fan of each other character.

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